Heading West

We have made it to Darwin! Yes I realise I am a long way behind in my blog posts but aside from being really busy doing stuff, I haven’t had phone coverage for internet or power to charge my laptop.  But I will catch you up on the highlights in more detail in posts to come soon.

We’ve been on the road for 100 days now.  42 of them since we left Atherton and headed West along the Savannah Way then North up the Stuart Highway.  Far from being monotonous, the landscape of the Savannah Gulf of far North Queensland and the outback of the Top End is ever changing.  From sun bleached grasslands, scrubby bush, red stone cliffs, flat barren plains to tropical National Parks there is always something interesting to watch out the window as we tick over the k’s.

   

We have camped beside rivers, creeks and billabongs; in dry and dusty bush; in National Parks and surrounded by cattle, buffalo, horses, chickens and the odd cranky donkey in many outback stations, but always under a night sky filled with more stars than I ever thought possible.

     

We have swum in creeks and swimming holes as clear as they are cold; soaked off the dirt and dust in toasty warm thermal springs; learned that as long as you leave them alone it’s fine to swim with the “freshies”; paddled a canoe up gorges; hiked to waterfalls; fossicked for gemstones; watched the sun set over the Gulf of Carpentaria; marvelled at natural geological wonders and been amazed by the raw and sometimes harsh natural beauty of the Aussie Outback.

      

We have eaten, drunk, listened to live music and partied in some iconic Aussie pubs.  Not the least of which was the Daly Waters pub. A quirky one of a kind place where every square inch of the walls, ceiling and bar are covered with business cards, hats, shirts, shoes, bras and all manner of paraphernalia people have felt the need to leave behind.  Here we ate beef and barra off the barbie, drank bad house wine and had a loud and boisterous night with two other amazing families on the road with their kids.

We have met many friendly, warm, adventurous, down to earth, wonderful people.  Serveral of whom we became good friends with in spite of the transient nature of relationships on the road.  We have spent many hours chatting and swapping stories with other travellers over camp happy hour and around the campfire.  We met one family in particular at Banka Banka station between the Barkley Roadhouse and Daly Waters, who we clicked with immediately.  We happened to be heading in the same direction so were able to spend 5 fun filled days with them exploring the path North.  Bubba hit it off immediately with their oldest son and they quickly became best buds.  We hardly saw him for those days, disappearing out the van after breakfast, reappearing only for the odd meal.  Poor Jazzy desperately wanted to be one of the big boys and trailed after them.  The boys were great though, often including him in their games.  We have plans to meet up again and I’m sure we will remain friends for many years to come.

We have all had our tired and cranky days but the boys have changed and grown so much since leaving. It has been a joy to watch them flourish in this bush setting.

This is why we packed up and hit the road.

To celebrate reaching Darwin I thought we should have cake.  Well, muffins at least.  These little babies are easy to make and so long as I have some pre-ground sunflower seeds and pepitas, they don’t need power to do so.  You could use store bought almond meal instead, if you tolerate nuts, to make it easier but I quite like the taste the seeds give them. The recipe below is the base recipe and you can go nuts (pardon the pun) with changing up the flavours you add to it.  I have given you a few ideas after the recipe.

So until next time, eat well & live happy.

xMel

MUFFINS

1 cup gf plain flour

1 cup mixed ground sunflower seeds and pepitas

3/4 cup rapadura sugar

2 heaped tsp gf baking powder

1/3 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1 cup UHT coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

Heat up the Weber (or your oven) to approx 170deg.  Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cup cake cases.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to remove any lumps.  Make a well in the centre and crack eggs into well.  Add oil, vanilla and milk then use a fork to whisk wet ingredients slowly incorporating the dry ingredients until well combined.  Spoon mixture into muffin tray.  Bake for approximately 25-30 mins until tops spring back when lightly touched. (makes 12)

Variations:

Apple & Cinnamon: Add 1 tsp cinnamon to dry ingredients.  Grate 2 pink lady apples and squeeze out the juice.  Add to mixture at the end.

Chocolate: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to dry ingredients

Banana: Add 1 tsp cinnamon to dry ingredients and 2 mashed bananas at the end.

 

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